Monthly Archives: January 2011

deserts, part 2

I deserve the same rights as everyone else.  That means I have the responsibility to work towards human rights.  For everyone.  For me.

Everyone deserves these things.

But I don’t think that’s what my therapist was getting at.  She wasn’t asking what everyone deserves — she was asking what I deserve.  I, as an individual.  Not as one in six billion; as me.  Ginger and Lime.*  And that’s still the hard part of the question.  Who gets to decide?  How do I know what I deserve?  Is she asking me to guess?

It’s such a murky territory.  Do I deserve to live in a house instead of in a shelter?  Yes, I think I do, but so do the people who actually live in shelters.

Do I deserve to eat healthy food?  Yes, I think I do, but so do the people who live in food deserts.**

Do I deserve to have a job?  Yes, I think I do, but so do the 9.4 percent of Americans currently looking for work.

Every day I thank my lucky stars.  Or whatever deity may be out there.  Or maybe just my lucky accident of birth.  And now I get to the heart of the matter, the hard questions that I’ve been circling around all this time.

Do I deserve to make music, even hemidemisemiprofessionally as I do? Lots of people are out there practicing more, playing better, networking and fundraising better, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve been given.

Do I deserve to be loved? I am monumentally lucky to have found my amazing husband, who loves me despite apparently neverending depression and the failure to adequately financially support his graduate school, not to mention my frequent lack of interest in anything but lying down.  I am also lucky not to have alienated my entire family, although I am developing an unfortunate habit of taking their kind gestures in the worst possible way.

Do I deserve to be a parent?*** This is the big one, of course.

How can I ever know the answer?

*Someday  I will tell you all my name.  It will be anticlimactic.

**Technically I do live in a food desert, but thankfully I have a car.  Do I deserve it?

***Apparently not, at least according to my Midwestern state (my employer, which excludes fertility treatments from insurance coverage — yes, I’m one of those dreaded government workers!) or the People’s Republic of China (I fail to meet at least two of the requirements to adopt from China).

deserts, part 1

Yesterday morning I had my first session with the new therapist.*   It was the predictable fall-apart sob show.  I think I’ve gotten so numb 90% of the time that given half a second of encouragement, I just completely stop holding it together.  There is no in-between.  All of the chewing gum and duct tape that are getting my psyche through the days just peel right off and I slide into a heap of gelatinous misery.  This is how I know I’m still depressed.

She gave me an assignment for the week:  to come up with an answer to a question I couldn’t answer in the session.  The question I couldn’t answer, that only made me tell pointless stories about heaven knows what, was What do you deserve?

I have been turning this over in my mind.  How does one answer that question?  What does a person deserve, and who gets to decide?  I decided to start with something I am quite sure I believe in:  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are rights.  They belong to everyone.  They’re human rights, not humans-who-measure-up rights.**  That means I deserve (shamelessly abridged; please read the whole thing if you haven’t before):

  • Life, liberty, and security of person.
  • Freedom from slavery or servitude.
  • Freedom from torture or degradation.
  • Recognition as a person before the law; equal protection under the law without discrimination; rights pertaining to due process, both for violations of my rights and for offenses of which I am accused.
  • Privacy without arbitrary intrusion.
  • Freedom of movement, including the freedom to seek asylum.
  • The right to marry and to found a family.
  • The right to own property.
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression, and association.
  • Public service including access to government, social security, and participation in government.
  • The right to work for equal pay, to unionize, and to rest and leisure.
  • An adequate standard of living.
  • An education; participation in cultural and scientific advancement.

Do I deserve anything beyond basic human rights?  And again, who gets to decide?  And just how good do I have to be?  Buddhism has taught me that I deserve to be on the path, no matter how slowly I move:  I deserve to want to wake up. I deserve to try.  The brahma-viharas apply to me.

I think I can start there.  I deserve the same human rights as anyone else.  I deserve the same spiritual path as anyone else.  I deserve the same compassion as anyone else.  That feels like riches.

 

*The whole hour I kept thinking of my previous therapist with nostalgia.  “C***** would never have said that.”  “C***** would have known what I meant.”  Because it’s totally fair to hold someone I just met to the standard of someone who knew me for months!   (And about whom I complained incessantly!)  My students sometimes do this when they start taking lessons with me after having another teacher.  “My old teacher said…”  “Well, that’s not how I learned it.”  Now I understand the impulse.

**To deserve these things is one thing; obviously not everyone has them.  This is why I give to Amnesty International even when it means cutting out of my own budget.

a tale of two periods

Thanks for all of the input about my little freakout on Friday.  After one day of very heavy bleeding things slowed down a lot, and I never got the awful cramps that I used to get.  So I’m not going to worry too much about the likelihood of Return of the Fibroids:  The New Batch.

(Because all of you were waiting with bated breath just to hear the update on my most recent menstruation.  Admit it.)

Speaking of periods, and oversharing, a woman came into my office yesterday demanding to speak to my director but seriously mispronouncing her name.  I’m under strict instructions to be the gatekeeper even when people know my director’s correct name, so I (pleasantly, I hope) asked her what she needed to talk about.

Eventually I figured out what she needed — if she did get in to see my director, she would just have been sent right back out to me to take care of her problem.  I explained this as patiently as I could, and this was the response I got:

“I’ve been running around all day and I’ve got to tell you, the only way this is going to be OK is if you’ve got some chocolate.”

As luck would have it, we did have some chocolate in the office — left over from the youth festival we ran over the weekend.  She had some, then apologized:

“I’m sorry for not listening to you earlier.  I guess it’s just that time of the month.”

Once she had calmed down I was able to solve her problem and get her what she wanted.  But not before she mentioned her period at least twice more.

Now, friends, I think there’s a time and a place for talking about your period.  An infertility blog?  Yes, probably OK.  An office you’ve come to for non-medical help?  Hmm, I think I would probably choose not to mention the fact that I’m bleeding from my vagina in front of strangers.

After all, you never know — the person you mention your period to might just blog about it later!

blog note

I’ve taken down my list of links.  It is hopelessly out of date — with closed blogs and password-protected blogs still showing up, and lots and lots of great blogs that I’ve been too lazy to add.

The links will be back once I’ve had time to update the list.

15 pounds

I was getting dressed last weekend and pulled on a favorite pair of jeans.  Broken in, a little ratty, definitely weekends-only.*  Much to my surprise they felt really loose, and I was even able to slip them on and off without unbuttoning.  I started thinking about how this could be — do jeans stretch in the wash?  Had they always been this baggy?  Was I sure they were buttoned?  Were they even my jeans?

It took me a really long time even to consider the possibility that I’d lost weight.

I haven’t been dieting, and since July I haven’t been getting much exercise at all; I have just been assuming that I am continuing to lard it up as I have been for the past few years.  But this jeans thing was really perplexing — how did I get from comfy weekend wear to can’t-go-grocery-shopping-in-these-because-they-might-fall-off?  So I dug the scale out of the closet where it’s been gathering dust among the other unwanted bathroom detritus.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I’ve lost 15 pounds.  I actually weighed myself several times, thinking the scale must not have been sitting level, but it does seem to be true, and Occam’s razor (sadly, not found in my bathroom closet) tells me that it is a likely explanation for the Mysterious Expanding Jeans.

Holy shit.  How did I lose the weight of a respectably-sized Thanksgiving turkey without noticing?  It’s 9 percent of my weight.  Where did it go?

While weight loss is always welcome (someday I will fit back into those pretty clothes I bought while living overseas), I do find it a little alarming that I am apparently so disconnected from my own body that this happened without my being aware of it.  It’s becoming more and more clear that I really did lose 2010 in so many ways, and that the number-one thing I need to work on is just showing up for my own life.  Not medicating myself by numbing out with the iPod or the TV or righteous political anger — but actually breathing in my own space and noticing what the fuck is happening around me, and even (maybe) participating.

That’s why I started my 2011 page.  I’m tracking my progress on the goals from my New Year post, and while I’m not doing so well so far, at least I’m paying attention.  And that’s already better than last year.

*One of the perks of working for peanuts at a nonprofit is that no one cares if I wear jeans to work as long as they’re in very good condition.

the curse

(possible TMI)

Since my surgery 6 months ago, my periods went from

“This is horrible!  Why can’t I take 4 sick days every month?  Who are these awful women in the tampon commercials who go to the beach while menstruating?”

to

“Oh, now I get it.  Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.”

But here I am, 6 months later, once again bleeding right through a tampon an hour.

So, a question for my Sisters of the Fibroid.

Does this mean they’re back?

for want of a nail

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.

What if enthusiastic consent was a universal standard?  If, instead of just the absence of a “no,” decent people all understood that the minimum standard of consent for sex was a “yes?”  Rape wouldn’t disappear, of course, but gray rape* might.

For want of the shoe, the horse was lost.

What if the sexual double standard were to disappear?  In a world that really accepted enthusiastic consent, women’s desire would be a necessary condition for heterosexual sex.  Teenage girls who do have sex have reported in surveys that they need to feel “swept away” by the moment in order to have sex.  In other words, instead of owning their desire as something natural, they go along with things (initiated by their boyfriends) and just let things happen.  Not surprisingly, girls who report this are much less likely to use contraception.

For want of the horse, the rider was lost.

And we all know what happens when you don’t use contraception.**

For want of the rider, the message was lost.

What if all women had access to emergency contraception?  Post-rape.  Post-unprotected sex.  Post-contraception failure.  Everyone reading this blog knows enough about reproductive biology to know that suppressing ovulation and/or preventing implantation is hardly the same as abortion.  Why can’t pharmacists understand this?

For want of the message, the battle was lost.

What if all women facing unwanted pregnancy had real choices?  What if they all had access to comprehensive reproductive health care?  What if they could enter a clinic without walking a gauntlet of protesters calling them murderers?  What if they could go to a “crisis pregnancy center” without being coerced into “choosing” adoption?  What if they never had to justify choosing their own health, or even their own life?

For want of the battle, the war was lost.

What if women carrying a pregnancy to term had a real social safety net?  Health care for both mother and child.  Training in parenting.  Living wage laws.  Child care for working mothers.  Quality public schools.  Social, medical, and legal support for the care of special-needs children.  A non-punitive approach to drug addiction, leading to treatment instead of prison.  Would fewer women give their children up for adoption, either before or after birth?  Would fewer children be taken from their parents and placed in foster care?  Would more families remain intact?

For want of the war, the kingdom was lost.

What if the only people who became parents were the ones who wanted to? It’s the other side of the coin of infertility.  All of us in the ALI community wonder the inverse:  what if all of us who want to become parents could do it?  But we have sisters.  Sisters who have children they never intended to have.  Sisters who have children they can’t care for.  Sisters whose children are taken from them.  Sisters who were deprived of their reproductive choice just as surely as we have been deprived of ours.

I think adoption is a beautiful thing, but as I consider it I can’t stop thinking about my sisters, my opposites, who are doing the best they can just like I am.  What if we all really had a choice?  What would the world look like?

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

*Which doesn’t exist.  Rape is rape.

**Well, in my case what happens is 2 and a half years of nothing, lots of doctor visits, major surgery, and crushing depression.  But we’re not talking about me.